Kenya seeks to go one better in conference tourism in 2017

By Lee Mwiti Updated Tue, January 3rd 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 SHARE THIS ARTICLE

Kenya is keen to build on the success of last year as a major conference tourism destination. Among the high-profile international events to be staged in the country this year include the Aid and Development Africa Summit in Nairobi. The summit will bring together representatives from finance ministries from different aid-dependent African countries, who will hold talks with western donor countries on the future of aid and trade on the continent.

BUSIEST PERIOD The hugely popular American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) Destination Expo will also pitch tent in the country this year as will the Africa Sugar Conference.

“With an expanding economy that is ripe for investment, Kenya is attracting a great deal of local and global attention as the region’s business hub. This has consequently spurred a significant level of growth in the country’s meetings industry where stakeholders meet to promote trade, network and showcase innovations,” says the Kenya Meetings Industry Report 2016.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala launched the report at the tail end of 2016. With conference tourism accounting for 27.5 per cent of the total tourism revenues in 2015, the sector performed even better in 2016. According to the report, Kenya hosted a total of 243 business and professional meetings last year, including the high-profile United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). These ranged from conferences, summits, forums and exhibitions. Of the participants at the meetings, 55 per cent were locals. Pan-African participants consisted 22 per cent, regional East African participants (15 per cent) and international attendees (eight per cent).

The busiest meeting period in 2016 was recorded as between September and November. Top venues in Nairobi that hosted the meetings were the Kenyatta International Convection Centre (KICC), Safari Park hotel and the newly opened Radisson Blu hotel.

The report cites the recent task force formed to engage the private sector by CS Balala – the National Convection Bureau – as one of the pillars that will spur conference tourism this year. The decision by the State to invest heavily in security agencies has built confidence in the country internationally, with many travel advisories being lifted.
For example, the Skal World Congress that was planned to be hosted in Nairobi in 2014 before suddenly being cancelled, will now be hosted in the capital in 2018.

As 2017 rolls in, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) has ranked Kenya as the second best destination for conference tourism in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa.
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Also in the news:
Our founder spoke to the Business Daily on  conference planning in Kenya and on setting up conferences and trade events bureau, Mkutano Business Travel. Read the article here.
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This article was first published in The Standard Newspaper on 3rd January 2017.
(Article source: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2000228609/kenya-seeks-to-go-one-better-in-conference-tourism-in-2017).

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